Last summer, I detailed the inadequacies of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, the fumbling radio broadcasting team of the New York Yankees. Since last season was their first together, and because I’m a nice guy, I thought I was pretty diplomatic in my assertion. I detailed the positives and negatives of both. In fact, here’s a short recap:
Positives: good voice
Negatives: everything else
Positives: not nearly as exhausting as Sterling
Negatives: bad voice, virtually nonexistent
So, yeah…that was basically it. But now it’s one year later and honestly, I can’t take it anymore. Forget about Waldman – she’s just a necessary evil in the booth/world of John Sterling, as evidenced by his innate ability to simply ignore her, or, to casually yet condescendingly disagree with her. Whatever. My beef here is with Sterling. I mean, how many more seasons do we Yankee fans have to endure with this guy? Seriously? How many?
With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at the reasons behind my annual summers of discontent when it comes to listening to Yankee games on the radio. And, just for the heck of it, let’s run this picture again:
John Sterling can never let anything just be. If it’s a sunny day, it’s “the most beautiful day you can possibly imagine,” or “a great day to be alive.” If the ballpark is full (and when isn’t it?) it inevitably leads to an incessant monologue about how amazing it is that so many people came to watch the Yankees – I mean, fifty-five thousand people!…On a Wednesday afternoon, no less! It’s just amazing. Simply amazing. And what a beautiful day… Ughhh.
I could even deal with that if it weren’t for the fact that Sterling cannot let the actual game stand on its own. If the Yankees win in the bottom of the ninth – regardless if it’s only an April game against the Devil Rays – Sterling is ready to FedEx a copy of the game tape to the Hall of Fame immediately. WHAT a game! I mean, what a game! The Yankees win it in the bottom of the ninth in one of the greatest games you will see all season long – I guarantee you that! So it’s the Yankees 8, and the Devil Rays 7, in what they’ll probably refer to as “the Greatest Game Ever Played. We’ll be back with the clubhouse report after this…
Not to mention, individual performances (as long as they come from Yankees) are the stuff of legend. Sterling came as close to an on-air orgasm as possible when Melky Cabrera robbed Manny Ramirez of a home run back in early June, immediately referring to it as “the play of the year.” (Hold your horses, John. Did you see Gary Matthews Jr.’s catch? Of course you didn’t – he’s not a Yankee.) Three weeks ago, I was listening to the Yanks play the Indians, and Randy Johnson had not given up a hit going into the fifth inning, which prompted Sterling to declare that THIS start was one of the “three or four best of his career.” Whoa, whoa, WHOA! It’s the fifth inning, John! Calm down. And not only did Johnson go on to give up a hit that inning, he went on to give up three runs. It’s almost as if Sterling had totally neglected the prime of Johnson’s career, when he consistently tossed three-hit, complete-game shutouts. He was so excited to be watching Johnson (finally) pitching well as a Yankee, that he had to beat us over the head with it.
I cannot stress enough how much I despise this aspect of John Sterling’s announcing. We’re intelligent baseball fans. We know when we’re listening to a great game. We know when we’re listening to a moderately good game, and we know the difference. We know when it’s nice outside – we’re not cuddled up next to a radio in a dungeon somewhere. A great day, great performance, or great game can never speak for itself when John Sterling is around, because John Sterling feels compelled to speak for it.
John Sterling cannot see. We discussed last season’s now infamous call of a ball that miraculously went “off the wall, and…into the stands!” Yikes. But just last week, I heard this one (I won’t quote it because I cannot remember it verbatim): He takes a strike…and hits it into…center field, for a base hit. Wait, what? Did he hit it out of the catcher’s glove? How does someone “take a strike” and get a hit on the same pitch? I’m confused. Sometimes I think you can actually hear John Sterling squinting. Also, three weeks ago, Jorge Posada hit a pitch, and this ensued: Jorge CORKS one, to DEEP center field!…It’s BACK, it’s a-WAY back!…Sizemore looks up…he’s at the track…makes the catch. Of course, this led to some rambling about how far the center field wall is at Jacobs Field, which is to say, it wasn’t Sterling’s fault that he messed up that call – it was the ballpark’s fault. Obviously. Which brings me to my next point…
John Sterling loves to say “obviously.” I mean, he really loves to say obviously. A quick sampling of fake quotes: “He doesn’t want to hit him with the pitch, obviously.” “The Yankees need to score runs, obviously.” “Suzyn has no idea what she’s talking about, obviously.” “Farnsworth needs to throw strikes, obviously.” “Joe Torre is wearing pants tonight, obviously.” You would think that, at broadcasting school, there is some kind of rule that states: If you feel compelled to say “obviously” after making a statement, you probably shouldn’t even bother with the statement in the first place. I’ve never been to broadcasting school, but I think that’s pretty obvious. (By the way, after that paragraph, that word has currently lost all meaning.)
John Sterling has definitely unknowingly quoted “Anchorman.” There is no doubt in my mind that Sterling, upon meeting someone who had the audacity to not know him, has said, “I don’t how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” I’d put money on it.
John Sterling schills for the Yankees in a manner that is unprecedented in the realm of radio broadcasting. I don’t think I even need to go into detail about this. We all know - Torre is always right, Derek Jeter is the greatest player ever, other teams’ closers are mud underneath the spikes of Mariano Rivera (in fact, why do other teams even have closers?), Randy Johnson is one start away from “getting it” and is also very attractive, we should all be ashamed of ourselves for criticizing A-Rod, Bubba Crosby would be an all-star on another team, and so on and so forth. I bet he covers his ears whenever somebody mentions “Giambi” and “steroids” in the same sentence. It’s not only that he constantly praises the Yankees – he also has subtle ways of bashing the other team (except the Red Sox, a team he deems worthy of competing against the Yanks…way to go Boston!). I can distinctly remember him poking fun at the waist sizes of Sidney Ponson (while with Baltimore, of course) and Bartolo Colon in the past. If a mediocre pitcher is doing well against the Yanks, Sterling can’t hide his shock. Sometimes, I don’t even think he knows the players on the opposing team. During the Cleveland series, he combined Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner to form a player whom he described as “Grady Hafner.” (By the way, that is my third or fourth mention of the Cleveland series from a couple of weeks ago. Not Sterling’s finest work. Obviously. Okay, that word is back!)
The main reason I mention this is because, as a Yankee fan, it’s embarrassing. Sterling seems to encompass a nationwide perception of Yankee fans as pompous know-it-alls who care only about the Yankees, and who could care less about the rest of the baseball world. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I realize that Sterling is the radio broadcaster for the Yankees, and that he should lean their way, but his affection for the franchise is shameless, and his announcing is bereft of any objectivity whatsoever. (Sometimes when I’m listening to a game, all I can think about are those “Daaa Bears” SNL skits, and I picture four John Sterlings sitting around a table trying to decide what would happen if Derek Jeter faced Mariano Rivera.)
So yeah, all that is why I can’t stand listening to John Sterling. Plus all the other stuff I mentioned last year.
But on the other hand, he has a good voice. So it almost evens out.